Abstract

Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent, was beheaded in March 1330 for treason against his nephew Edward III after he admitted plotting to release his deposed half-brother Edward II from captivity at Corfe Castle. Edward II's death at Berkeley Castle had been publicly announced two and a half years previously, and Kent himself attended the funeral in Gloucester in December 1327. A frequent explanation for the earl's subsequent belief that the former king was still alive assumes that he was stupid and gullible and had been tricked into trying to rescue a dead man to provide an excuse for Edward III's mother Queen Isabella and her paramour Roger Mortimer, ruling the country in the king's name, to execute him. This explanation either ignores altogether the men who supported Kent in his plot, or dismisses them as a few disaffected clerics and a handful of others with grievances against Isabella and Mortimer's rule who did not truly believe in Edward II's survival. This article demonstrates that around seventy men supported Kent in 1330 and provides detailed backgrounds and allegiances for them, showing that the majority had been close to Edward II and had shown great loyalty to him before, during and after the revolution of 1326/27 which swept him from his throne. This sheds new light on the plot and the motives of those who took part, and has profound implications for the very current debate of Edward II's survival after 1327.

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